Qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix is at risk of getting postponed until Sunday morning unless wet conditions ease off over the next few hours, AUTOSPORT understands.
With morning rain battering the Suzuka circuit in Japan on Saturday morning - and heavy storms scheduled to hit the track ahead of qualifying - teams and drivers are bracing themselves for this afternoon's scheduled session to be delayed.
Worsening conditions during Saturday morning's free practice session left the track in a condition that drivers felt was too dangerous, and AUTOSPORT understands that the FIA will not let qualifying start unless the situation improves.
Although there is no official procedure for what happens if qualifying does not start on time, the likely sequence of events is for an attempt to be made to start it later today if the weather improves.
However, if it does not take place up to an hour before it gets dark, which is approximately 5.30pm in Japan, then the preference is for it to take place at some point on Sunday morning.
World champion Jenson Button said there was no chance of qualifying going ahead if the rain does not ease off.
"That is way too wet at the moment," Button told AUTOSPORT. "It is wetter than what we had in Brazil last year. You might say a car went around, but in practice you can make it around by just driving slow, whereas in qualifying as soon as you tell someone to push - there will be havoc. I don't think a car would make it around a lap if that happened."
Button reckoned, however, that if the track was as wet as it had been at the start of the session then qualifying would be possible.
"At the start of the session it was pretty wet but you could drive it," he said. "There were rivers but you could drive it. But in the conditions it was at the end it was way worse than it was in Brazil last year and it is only going to get worse. It's tricky really."
Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner said his preference was for qualifying to be delayed until Sunday if it could not take place today - rather than have the grid decided any other way.
"Practice was a complete washout and too dangerous to run the cars with that much standing water, so we will see what happens this afternoon," he told AUTOSPORT. "If it stays like this I cannot see how they run qualifying in these conditions so we have to wait and see.
"There is no reason why qualifying cannot happen tomorrow morning, as it did in 2004. I think it is important to not put the drivers in a situation where somebody could get hurt.
"The weather is at this point in time horrendous and I don't think, certainly in the second half as the weather was in that session, that qualifying could have started. It is different in free practice because you are not obliged to go out, whereas in qualifying you are."
With dry weather expected on Sunday, and the race not due to start until 3pm, Horner said there would be no problem in rescheduling qualifying.
"I think the fairest thing would be to do that," he said. "I think that happened in 2004, and that would be the most sensible thing.
"We have plenty of time in the morning. The race is not until 3pm, and it would be more sensible to run the qualifying then than risk driver safety this afternoon."
AUTOSPORT understands that the FIA will make an official decision about qualifying at 1.50pm - 10 minutes before qualifying is scheduled to start.